Lots of hard work paid off this summer as 5 eighth graders took advantage of an extracurricular opportunity of a lifetime! First, they read Wendy Mass’ book titled Every Soul a Star, a book about the adventures of 3 teens whose lives converge at a campground for a long awaited total solar eclipse. Maddie’s summary of reading about the solar eclipse was that it “gave the feeling that something is so beautiful you can’t even imagine it.” After reading the book, they traveled with Mrs. Trout and her family to Carbondale to experience the solar eclipse together! To recreate the book, they camped at Giant State Park Campground. Jake marveled at how dark the night sky was: “When we were camping at night I could see stars, and I haven’t seen stars in a long time because of light pollution.” DeAnna thought camping was “kind of creepy because it was really dark, but it was kind of fun, too, eating s’mores.”
The morning of the eclipse, after an inspirational breakfast of sun-kissed oranges, Sun Chips and CapriSun (did you catch the theme?), they headed over to join 15,000 eclipse fans at Southern Illinois University’s stadium.
In Karen Trout's words:
"There was not a cloud in the sky. We saw the moon make first contact with the sun and slowly begin ‘eating away at it’ as it traveled in front of it. Then just minutes before the moment we had all been waiting for (totality: when the moon completely covers the sun allowing us to take off our special eclipse glasses and view the sun’s atmosphere, when a wave of darkness sweeps over the land as the moon’s shadow is cast upon a stadium of gaping awestruck onlookers, when the sky turns so dark you can see the stars, and you begin to wonder if the world is coming to an end...) a huge cloud appeared out of nowhere right where the moon was ‘taking out the sun.’ You could feel the dismay sweep through the stadium as we realized we were missing this ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity because of one STUPID cloud!!! We held our breath waiting as we noticed a small gap in the clouds approaching. Joshua recalls: ‘When the cloud moved out of the way we saw a little piece of totality.’ Then very quickly, the cloud swallowed up our view again for the next 2 minutes of totality. No matter how hard we blew the air around us or how fervently we prayed, that cloud lingered the entire rest of totality and only parted again as the first rays of sun popped back out the other side of the moon allowing us to see what is known as the diamond ring.
We joined thousands of dejected spectators who left SIU to find their cars and begin the eternal trek home. For some, a 5 hour drive took 12 hours, for others it took 20. Yet despite our disappointment, we knew we had joined with thousands of others from around the world in awe of God’s creation and His power. We had done all we could to be a witness!"
One result from the solar eclipse adventure is that all the CWSCS viewers are now committed to serious solar eclipse chasing! Jake spoke for all when he stated: “Whenever I think about the eclipse and how we didn’t really get to see it, I think about 2024! I WANT TO SEE TOTALITY!”